How Often Should You Be Cleaning Your Laundry Washing Machine?

No matter how you look at it, cleaning is a chore. Even if you tidy up your home as a form of contemplative meditation, as some do in order to gain a sense of control or if you just enjoy keeping a clean space, cleaning takes work. Keeping everything in your apartment or house free from grime, dust, and dirt requires quite a bit of regular effort.

Over the years we've gained so many technological advancements in cleaning. Unlike our grandparents, we now have a plethora of tools that help us clean. Many of them have become essential for any living space today (via Apartment Therapy). From dishwashers and vacuums to magic erasers and anti-bacterial wipes, we've adopted so many products and gadgets that help us clean.

Still, sometimes you have to actually clean the appliances you use to clean things in your home. After all, things like dishwashers need to be cleaned regularly, so it only makes sense that even your washing machine needs a regular cleaning. 

Your washer needs a monthly deep clean

Though there's an irony in having to wash something that is designed to wash other things, there are clear benefits in disinfecting your washing machine and giving it a deep clean on a regular basis.

Cleaning expert and author of "The Cleaning Ninja", Courtenay Hartford, explains, "Cleaning your washer should be viewed as more of a preventative measure than as something that you do to fix a problem once it arises," (via Martha Stewart). This also ensures that the machine runs better and leaves your clothes pristine.

Hartford says you'll know when it's time to deep clean your washer because clothes won't smell as fresh as they usually do. "You might also notice buildup of various types of debris (pet fur, leaves, etc.) around the seals — that's a visual cue that you might have forgotten to run a good cleaning cycle for the last few months," she said. 

Yet, even more troublesome is that bacteria and viruses can easily become trapped in the nooks and crannies of your washer, especially if you tend to use cold water rather than hot (via Clean My Space). In addition, germs can linger in the machine and mix with your clothes on subsequent washings. Thankfully, a deep clean can remove all that.

How to clean your washing machine

You might not want to add yet another task to your to-do list, but cleaning your washing machine is a vital step that shouldn't take you too long. To begin, start by scrubbing the exterior of the washer and then wipe down the inside tub with a microfiber cloth. The goal is to remove any residual debris that is stuck on the sides, in the seals, or on the lid.

Next, put your washer on its hottest setting and add 1/4 cup chlorine bleach mixed with one quart of water to your empty machine (via The Spruce). Then run a deep cleaning cycle.

If you don't want to use bleach, or prefer a milder cleaner, you can rely on two basic pantry staples. First, use two cups of vinegar to clean out your washer (via Reader's Digest). "Both vinegar and baking soda can be used to clean your washing machine and clothing, but they should not be mixed together because they neutralize each other," says Melissa Maker, founder of Clean My Space.

Once the empty load is done, to ensure even greater disinfecting, add 1/2 cup of baking soda to the drum and run another hot cycle.

Keeping your washer clean and free of dirt buildup won't only help it run better, but will also help it last longer.